Scott Miller Credit Card Fraud

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					CREDITREPORT

ALEXANDER SCOTT

Capital News Service



LANSING- One of the best ways to fight identity theft will get more power if new

legislation is enacted, backers say.

   The proposal would allow people to put a security freeze on their credit reports. That

would effectively “lock” a person’s credit so that no one else could use that report to get

loans or credit cards.

   Consumers would still be able to use their cards and loans, but would have to

“unlock” the report to apply for new credit.

   To make such protection affordable, the maximum fee for the freeze would be $10.

   The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Kathy Angerer, D-Dundee, said that the bill is part of

an ongoing effort to protect state residents.

   “The best defense is a good offense,” said Angerer, “Michigan made some good

moves, good strides, last year on security breaches, and this security credit freeze is one

more step in the process.”

   Another sponsor of the proposal, Rep. Fred Miller, D-Mount Clemens, said it is

important to protect Michigan residents from the problems created by identity theft.

   “I’ve had people come forward to me, victims of identity theft, and they’ve told horror

stories about how before they even realized it, it had gotten out of control,” said Miller,

“This would be important protection that people would have if they found themselves in

this situation. They could immediately put a halt to it.”
    Detective Sgt. David Kelly of the State Police identity theft team says the legislation

would be “added protection” in safeguarding consumers against a growing crime.

   “We’re finding it to be sort of the emerging crime of the future,” Kelly said. “First of

all, it’s a very lucrative crime and second of all, the penalties are not very severe.”

   Kelly said that his Livonia-based team currently investigates about 20 cases every

month in the Detroit area.

   According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were 7,139 cases of identity theft

reported in Michigan in 2005, the most recent year for which it has data.

   To avoid identity theft, experts recommend that individuals ask to be removed from

mailing lists that send pre-approved credit cards and that they regularly check their credit

report.

   Kelly said taking such steps can be cumbersome because businesses have different

procedures and timelines for removing people from mailing lists.

   Some companies that will do the work, for a price.

   “They will put a fraud alert on your credit report and continuously update that alert so

nobody can open an account using your information without you knowing about it,” said

Kelly. “They would take you off those (credit card) mailing lists.”

   The bill’s sponsors include Reps. Kate Ebli, D-Monroe; Steve Tobocman D-Detroit;

Richard Ball, R-Bennington Township; Frank Accavitti Jr., D-Eastpointe; and Marie

Donigan, D-Royal Oak.

   The bill is before the House Banking and Financial Services Committee.



For more information, go to FTC.gov or www.michigan.gov/identity-theft.

				
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